Wednesday, August 12, 2009
There She Is, Myth America
Time for another mythbusting edition of HoseMaster of Wine! In this occasional series (see "You're Mything the Point" from the June 15th edition) I debunk myths about wine and the wine business for your edification. No need to thank me. Just doing my job.
Myth #1 New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc is made from grapes.
This is a common assumption with no basis in fact. Most of the world insists that "wine" be produced 100% from grapes, except in Austria where you're allowed to use petroleum byproducts. But New Zealand's climate is lousy for wine grapes, so their Sauvignon Blancs are actually fermented Tasmanian devil urine (which is also used for most Australian Chardonnay). Oh sure, there are vineyards in New Zealand, but they're just a front, sort of like how MacDonald's pretends their hamburgers are made from actual meat. The grapes never ripen in those vineyards, they're just for show. And, as it turns out, there are only two producers of "Sauvignon Blanc" in New Zealand and they produce all of the Taz Blanc for the couple hundred labels you see in wine shops. This is easy to confirm. Conduct a blind tasting of fifteen "different" New Zealand Sauvignon Blancs and try to tell them apart! You can't. Because they're all from the same marsupials!! New Zealand "Pinot Noir" is a different story--it's made from sheep dung.
Myth #2 Wine Tasting is Subjective.
I love this one. This is what wine experts say to people who don't know shit about wine in order to avoid making them feel like their opinions are stupid. But nothing could be further from the truth. Most people's opinions about wine are, in fact, stupid, and only made worse by the fact that they think they are entitled to their opinions. There aren't three correct answers to a question on your driving test, there aren't six answers to a geometry problem, and, really, there aren't any real disagreements about wines. We wine experts just say wine preference is personal taste all the time because it's way too much work to teach you ignoramuses about the fundamentals of wine. We know what wines are actually perfect, fantastic, amazing, and when some imbecile says something like "It's too bitey" we just say, "Well, everyone's different. Just drink what you like." Which is essentially our way of telling you, "You're stupider than a Tim Fish 'Wine Spectator' feature." Don't believe it for a minute. Every wine has an objective and iron-clad rating. You're just not privy to it.
Myth #3 Robert Parker is still alive.
Just as Scientologists, who just lost their great champion in Eunice Kennedy Shriver, still profess that L. Ron Hubbard is alive, Parkerbots claim that Robert Parker is still alive. It's not true. RP died in 2004 when a 100 pound scale fell on him. But his death was covered up, mainly by the French and Australians who knew their sales and prices would plummet without his inflated ratings to sell them. A Parker impersonator was hired, a man equally skilled in butchering the language, who attends charity tastings where he is provided with a script ghostwritten for him by Rod McKuen. Many in the business who are aware of Parker's demise worry what will become of the wine industry when consumers become aware that the great man is dead. Where will they turn for advice? How will wine shops sell wine without the "RP" POS signs? Will they have to resort to actually knowing the wines they sell? And how far will the price of Bordeaux fall without the Wine Pope's blessings? Will they become as unsellable as high-end Australian Shiraz, which even with Parker's wholehearted endorsement people recognize as Bardahl? Who will decide the next California cult wine? Steve Heimoff? James Laube? Alder Yarrow? A different undiscovered industry suckup? It's going to be scary.
The late Mr. Parker getting a snootful of a TCA.
Myth #4 Corked wines are faulty.
There are a couple of myths rolled up in this one. First of all, the idea that a "corked" wine is caused by contamination from the cork. This is a lie cooked up by the folks who make and advocate screwtops, and has no basis in fact. The off-aroma that is defined as "corked" is caused by a chemical compound known as TCA, which is short for Tightly Clenched Anus. It's a result of the bottle of wine having been stored too close to a septic tank. Aside from that, there are actually many wine connoisseurs who prefer corked wines and actively seek them out. They love the specific quality of a corked wine, that alluring aroma of wet blogger, and feel that the corked bottle is superior to the noncorked bottle. Most of the time it is hard to disagree with them.